If you’re new to the world of Kayaking, and you’re looking for your very first recreational kayak, there are plenty of things that are going to be important to your Kayak buying decision. Starter kayaks come in a wide variety of sizes (width and depth), capabilities, weight capacities, and levels of stability. What will be best for you may not be the best for someone else, and vice versa.
Kayaking can be one of the more relaxing and serene activities you can enjoy. Having the best kayak makes all the difference as well. In this review and buying guide, we are going to discuss the best beginner kayaks for different types of Kayaking, and what you should look out for to make sure you have the most enjoyable paddle possible.
View The Best Kayak for Beginners Below
1. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
This is an inflatable kayak that is great for beginners because it is lightweight and can be taken anywhere without the need for a kayak trailer, or possibly even a car. With inflatable kayaks, you want to make sure they have enough stability and strength to last you a while.
The Challenger K1 lightweight kayak has I-beam floors, a bottom fin, grab lines, mesh gear storage, and stable design with a comfortable seat cushion to hold you in place. This recreational kayak can hold up to 220lbs and measures 107x29x12″.
Our top pick today is great for beginners because it won’t have you paying too much out of pocket and will give you the comfortable stability you need to get a feel for the water.
+ Top pick
+ Comfortable seat cushion
Why we like it – This top rated beginner kayak ticks all the boxes by being lightweight, incredibly portable, budget-friendly, durable, and stable. For a beginner, this top kayak is all you’re going to need if you want to be able to kayak absolutely anywhere. A great other option is the Intex Explorer K2.
2. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak
If you’re looking for a good and cheap kayak for one of your little ones, then the Lifetime Youth Kayak is a great option. It is designed specifically for kids so that they will have a lightweight, reliable, and safe kayak to help them get their sea legs in tune.
This Editors Choice kayak for kids is made of highly durable polyethylene, has a short and shallow design which adds stability, and comes with a swim-up deck on the back so if they find themselves treading water the kids’ kayak is easy easy to maneuver and re-mount. Included is a paddle, and the floor has multiple foothold positions.
This kids’ kayak has a weight capacity maximum of 130lbs, is only 6′ long, and weighs 18lbs. This lightweight kayak is suitable for kids 5 and up and will make a fantastic summer toy for any of your favorite children.
+ Built for kids
+ 130lbs weight capacity
+ Lightweight and stable
+ Durable kayak material
+ Safely designed
+ Adjustable foot braces for your kayaking shoes
+ Easy to paddle
+ Editors Choice
Why we like it – This is an excellent recreational kayak for kids, due to the 130lb weight capacity. It is lightweight, stable, easy to maneuver, and perfect for learning how to paddle around the lake at the cottage or the campsite to see if they are really going to catch the passion for kayaking. However, this is not a sea kayak.
3. Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak
The Sevylor Quickpak K1 kayak is an excellent choice for beginners. It comes with a backpack that carries the kayak and then the backpack turns into the comfy kayak seat. The kayak is made of highly durable and strong PVC plastic and is coated with tarpaulin on the bottom to give it a little more durability and puncture resistance.
It is an inflatable kayak and has multiple air chambers in case one of them does receive a puncture, you’ll have enough stability and air to get back to shore. It inflates with the air pump in less than 5 minutes, it weighs only 18 pounds and when inflated measures 103 x 36 x 30 inches. Since it can be taken anywhere, is budget-friendly, and lightweight, this stable kayak is great for beginners.
+ Durable material
+ Super portable
+ Easy to set-up
+ Carrying backpack included
Why we like it – It is pretty cool to be able to just grab your kayak, throw it on your back, hike to one of your favorite lakes, and have a paddle. This is a terrific beginner kayak that will allow you to do just that. Consider the Quikpak K5 if you have a larger budget.
4. SUNDOLPH Kayak
If you’re looking for a great hard plastic kayak to get you started, the Sun Dolphin excursion models are a fantastic choice. They are built with stability and ease of use in mind to help any beginner paddler get the hang of the water.
It weighs only 44 pounds which is light for a solid-body kayak and comes with retractable carrying handles. It is a sit inside kayak which is really easy to get in and out of and doesn’t rock too much.
This sit in kayak has a portable accessory carrier which you can use to tow things behind or store on top of the frame. This would be a great recreational kayak for people who want a moderate level of performance with the ease of use and portability of a beginner kayak.
+ Sit-inside cockpit
+ Easy to paddle around with
+ Sit inside kayak
Why we like it – Hard plastic kayaks are great for getting you used to the way a high-performance kayak will feel. This lightweight kayak has a shorter, shallower hull which is stable and durable and is great to start out with.
5. HydroForce Paddleboard SUP and Kayak
The HydroForce kayak/paddle board is a neat hybrid of a kayak as well as a standup paddle board. It is designed to be sat on with a backrest for comfort and can be used as a standup paddle board is necessary where you can get a good core workout and a better view of the surroundings.
The Tritech construction is super strong and offers durability and strength in a variety of conditions. It has three molded fins for stable tracking abilities, anti-slip kayak material to keep you in place, and the kayak paddles you need to get in motion.
+ Hybrid design
+ Durable and strong
+ Comfortable in multiple positions
Why we like it – Having a SUP that can turn into a kayak is awesome. Sometimes you get tired of sitting or standing and being able to do both is really fun and interesting.
6. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100
This top rated kayak is picked out specifically for beginner kayakers who enjoy getting out the fishing rod now and then. It is designed to hold two fishing rods on the front if you’re out for the catch of the day. It has a shallow, 10′ hull with tracking channels on the bottom which gives you fantastic primary stability.
This tandem kayak is built from highly durable PVC and has padded backrests and kayak seat cushion which makes you comfortable as you relax and check out the schools. This fish finder kayak can carry up to 275 lbs and weighs just over 55 pounds. This kayak fishing vessel has plenty of storage space, perfect for storing an extra warm fleece jacket for cold days or life jackets, and multiple foot positions which will be great for different sized riders.
+ Long, shallow hull
+ Durable and stable
+ Built for fishing
+ Gear storage space
+ Fish finder tracker
+ Adjustable foot brace
+ Padded kayak seats
Why we like it – If you’re looking for a silent fish finder with an abundance of storage space, then this recreational kayak is fantastic. It allows you to sit back and relax comfortably as you hunt down your delicious meals.
7. BKC Kayak RA220
The Brooklyn Kayak Company RA220 kayak is a ruggedly built kayak that is perfect for beginner kayakers and fishermen alike. It has an intuitive design that is great for sport with fishing rod holders, a super solid base which you can sit or stand on, waterproof gear storage compartments for your hiking daypack or your handheld GPS, and a sit-on-top design.
It is built of highly durable material, has a comfortable seat cushion and foot rudder controls to give you additional steering capabilities. This is one of the highest quality beginner sea kayaks you can find and gives you the primary stability and performance you want if you’re going to be using your kayak for sport.
+ Rugged design
+ Built-in rod holders
+ Stable base
+ Waterproof storage compartments
+ Sit on top design
Why we like it – This is an excellent sit on top kayak for the outdoor adventurer. It is solid, has a really cool design and holds onto your fishing rods when you need to track easily with the foot rudders on the bottom.
Beginner Kayak Buying Guide
What to look for in the best Kayak for Beginners
In most cases, you’re not looking to go for professional-grade materials when you’re looking for your first kayak. You have a different skill level and maybe you haven’t gotten a feel for the types of kayaking you like to do just yet. For this reason, pay attention to some of the most important things you should have in mind when shopping for your first kayak.
In order to choose the best kayak for a beginner, you need to know what to look out for. We hope the below beginner kayak buyer’s guide proves useful to you.
Beginner Kayak Features
You can find starter kayaks in a wide variety of kayak materials such as carbon fiber, wood, fiberglass, plastic, inflatable vinyl, and kevlar. The most expensive and high-performance kayaks you will find are made out of carbon fiber or kevlar due to their incredible durability, lightweight nature, and maneuverability.
The best starter kayaks will usually be made out of hard plastic or fiberglass as they are still fairly lightweight but offer a high level of performance and durability as well. It is not uncommon to find a good beginner kayak which is inflatable as well.
As a beginner, primary stability will be one of the most important things for you to have in your kayak. Stability will simply be the factor that keeps you upright, allows you to get in and out of the boat easily, and have a greater sense of security.
Kayaks with shallower hulls and less “kayak length” are usually more stable. Longer and more rounded hulled kayaks tend to rotate a little bit more in the water and are built for speed as opposed to leisure. Depending on your level of coordination or athleticism, you may be able to go straight for a longer kayak or one with a more rounded hull.
The stability comes down to the ease of the learning curve and gained confidence as a beginner. Sometimes, the more stable the kayak, the slower and harder it will be to turn. So if you’re looking to get competitive quickly, then maybe go straight for the professional designs.
Starter kayaks come in a few different designs. There are sit on top kayaks, cockpit kayaks, and self-bailing kayaks. Self-bailing kayaks are generally meant for rough water excursions and can handle a lot of crashing around. Cockpit kayaks or sit insides are a traditional design where you are fully encapsulated on the inside of the vessel. Choose the best kayak design based on your individual needs. If you’re planning to enter calm waters, you have a lot more viable options than someone looking for a recreational kayak for rough water activities like white-water kayaking.
This can help keep you warm and dry and tend to be a little higher performance. They can be a bit tougher to get into, and, if you don’t manage to find one that is the right size, they can be uncomfortable.
The right sized kayak will work perfectly for you. Sit-on-top kayaks are best for leisure paddling and people who aren’t looking to get competitive. They are usually very easy to maneuver and get in, have excellent stability and are a bit lighter due to having less construction material. Sit insides are generally harder to get in (as you’d expect!).
Size (Width and Depth)
The width and depth of your kayak should certainly correspond with the size of your frame. Having a kayak with adjustable foot rest features that will allow you to customize the “fit” to your needs will give you more comfort. Also, if your kayak is too short, you will be cramped in, and if it is too big, you will have trouble controlling it.
You don’t want to have your legs flat and you don’t want your knees up around your chin either. Pay attention to the sizing dimensions and kayak reviews for specific sizes to ensure that you get the right size of the kayak.
Now that you’re an expert in the field of starter kayaks features, you’re ready to hit the water and paddle your way to bliss and serenity. We hope you’ve found this information useful and look forward to seeing you at the lake!
There are specific sea kayaks designed for ocean waters. If you’re planning on hitting the heavier waves, be sure to look for an ocean kayak as opposed to a river or lake kayak so you’re kept safe and you have the best time possible. Ocean kayaks are generally more expensive, but – it’s certainly worth it for your safety.
Did you know?
Kayaking is one of the oldest forms of trader transportation. Back before we had ocean tankers to transport goods, tribes used to use ocean kayaks, town canoes, and large boats to traverse difficult and dangerous waters in the frigid arctic waters to trade goods and supply themselves for treacherous winters.